All passengers on crashed Ethiopian Airlines plane are dead

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash of the Boeing 737-8 MAX plane, which was new and had been delivered to the airline in November, records show.

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, widely considered the best-managed airline in Africa, calls itself Africa's largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.

Its statement said 149 passengers and eight crew members were thought to be on the plane that crashed six minutes after departing Addis Ababa on its way to Kenya's capital, Nairobi. The crash occurred around Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Addis Ababa, at 8:44 a.m.

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Deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash kills all passengers thought to be onboard
People walk past a part of the wreckage at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Family members of the victims involved in a plane crash react at Addis Ababa international airport Sunday, March 10, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said, as anxious families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
A family member of a victim involved in a plane crash talks on a mobile phone at Addis Ababa international airport Sunday, March 10, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said, as anxious families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)
Family members arrive at Bole International airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, March 10, 2019, to check on information on the Ethiopian flight that crashed. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said. (AP Photo/Elias Masseret)
Un avion des Ethiopian Airlines à destination de Nairobi s'est écrasé dimanche avec 149 passagers et huit membres d'équipage, a annoncé la compagnie. "Il n'y a pas de survivants à bord du vol, qui transportait des passagers de 33 pays", rapporte quant à elle la télévision publique, citant une source proche d'Ethiopian Airlines. /Photo d'archives/REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Family members arrive at Bole International airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday, March 10, 2019, to check on information on the Ethiopian flight that crashed. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia’s capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said. (AP Photo/Elias Masseret)
FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2010, file photo, Bole International airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. An Ethiopian Airlines flight with 157 people thought to be on board crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday, March 10, 2019 from Ethiopia's capital headed to Nairobi, the airline said. (AP Photo/Samson Haileyesus-file)
Relatives of the victims involved in a plane crash wait for information Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday, March 10, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said, as anxious families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)
Relatives of the victims involved in a plane crash wait for information at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Kenya, Sunday, March 10, 2019. An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Ethiopia's capital on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people thought to be on board, the airline and state broadcaster said, as anxious families rushed to airports in Addis Ababa and the destination, Nairobi. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)
Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) Managing Director and CEO Jonny Andersen and Kenya's Transport Minister James Macharia (L) give a press conference on Ethiopia airline's crash in Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10, 2019. - An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed Sunday morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board, Ethiopian Airlines said. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) Managing Director and CEO Jonny Andersen speaks during a press conference on Ethiopia airline's crash in Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10, 2019. - An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed Sunday morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board, Ethiopian Airlines said. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Chinese group send messages as informing about their colleagues who were allegedly onboard the plane that crashed in Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10, 2019. - An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on March 10 morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board, Ethiopian Airlines said. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Chinese group look at the arrival flight schedule as informing about their colleagues who were allegedly onboard the plane that crashed in Ethiopia, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 10, 2019. - An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on March 10 morning en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi with 149 passengers and eight crew believed to be on board, Ethiopian Airlines said. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman reacts as she waits for the updated flight information of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, where her fiance was onboard at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
People use their mobile phones near the flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A flight information board displaying the details of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 is seen at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
A man looks at his phone outside the Ethiopian Airlines offices in downtown Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A woman walks with her child outside the Ethiopian Airlines offices in downtown Nairobi, Kenya March 10, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
BISHOFTU, ETHIOPIA - MARCH 12: Investigators with the U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) look over debris at the crash site of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 on March 12, 2019 in Bishoftu, Ethiopia.. All 157 passengers and crew perished after the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 Flight came down six minutes after taking off from Bole Airport. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
People work to search for belongings and debris for forensic analysis at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in which their relatives perished among the 157 passengers and crew onboard, at Hama Quntushele village, near Bishoftu, in Oromia region, on March 15, 2019. - A French investigation into the March 10 Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX crash that killed 157 passengers and crew opened on March 15 as US aerospace giant Boeing stopped delivering the top-selling aircraft. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)
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The plane showed unstable vertical speed after takeoff, air traffic monitor Flightradar 24 said in a Twitter post. Visibility appeared to be clear.

State broadcaster EBC reported all passengers were dead and that the passengers included 33 nationalities. An Ethiopian Airlines spokesman said 32 Kenyans and 17 Ethiopians were among the victims.

Grieving family members gathered at Bole Airport. A statement by the Ethiopian prime minister's office offered its "deepest condolences" to families.

Kenya's transport minister, James Macharia, told reporters that authorities had not yet received the passenger manifest. He said an emergency response had been set up for family and friends.

"My prayers go to all the families and associates of those on board," Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta said, as many Kenyans braced for the worst.

Records show that the plane was new. The Planespotters civil aviation database shows that the Boeing 737-8 MAX was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in mid-November.

In October, another Boeing 737-8 MAX plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, killing all 189 people on board the plane Lion Air flight. The cockpit data recorder showed that the jet's airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on its last four flights, though Lion Air initially claimed that problems with the aircraft had been fixed.

The last deadly crash of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane was in 2010 when the plane crashed minutes after takeoff from Beirut killing all 90 people on board.

Sunday's crash comes as the country's reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has vowed to open up the airline and other sectors to foreign investment in a major transformation of the state-centered economy.

Ethiopian Airlines has been expanding assertively, recently opening a route to Moscow and in January inaugurating a new passenger terminal in Addis Ababa to triple capacity.

Speaking at the inauguration, the prime minister challenged the airline to build a new "Airport City" terminal in Bishoftu — where Sunday's crash occurred.

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